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Off the Shelf: Parenting With Fire by Shmuley Boteach

Posted Mar 12 2009 12:00am

Reading brings me great joy and is one of my favorite things to do. Every Thursday I will tell you about a book from my library.

Shmuley Boteach, otherwise known as Rabbi Shmuley, is a father to nine children and author of seventeen books to date. His book  is excellent. It is an easy read, written the way Rabbi Shmuley speaks, which is quick-witted and with a good sense of humor.

My favorite lessons from :

v Passions – everyone should have at least five things they are passionate about. Each parent should know his or her own passions and use them to enrich the quality of his or her job as a leader of the family. Having passions of your own, and pursuing them with enthusiasm is one of the greatest examples of “living life to the fullest” we can provide our children. In this way, we show our children the joys of being a grown up. Shmuley writes, “Although I encourage them to follow their own passions, I am also steadfast in trying to convey my own to them” (page 132). Shmuley’s passions are: 1) immediate and extended family; 2) history and historical sights; 3) love of books; 4) God and tradition; and 5) nature and the outdoors (pages 137-138). His book is filled with examples of how he integrates these passions into the landscape of his family. 

v Parent like a camp counselor – engage your kids, make life fun, enriching and active; rather than parenting like a judicious high school principal, who only steps in to reprimand children when they cause trouble. Shmuley actually was a camp counselor when he was a teenager. He shares his real life experiences with readers about how to infuse fun into even the dullest of situations.

is one of my favorite books on family. It has made such a positive impression on my parenting style. It is a book I would consider reading once every year just to keep the message fresh in my mind. I love his point about having passions in our life. We don’t have to stop living because we are now parents. In fact, we actually enrich our childrens’ lives by having interests and things in our life that keep us enthusiastic and wanting to jump out of bed every morning. It’s yet another indication that we need to hold on to that childlike wonder we once had and and carry it into adulthood and beyond. I also really like the book’s point about parenting like a camp counselor. Now that I have read that, the phrase pops into my head all the time as I parent my two young boys. They are that age which requires a lot of instruction and sometimes I feel like I’m repeating myself an awful lot. After reading this book, I now ask myself, How can I re-word what I need the boys to do right now? How can I make this fun or turn this situation into a game? It has made a real difference.

If you would like more information on Rabbi Shmuley, click here. If you are interested in buying , click here.


A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”  -Mark Twain

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